Sunday, October 21, 2007

Planning for Africa - Your Safari

When I booked my Africa trip, I was really working in the dark. I had not been there before. I did not know how things worked. In retrospect, I could not have planned better - for a first trip. But here are some things to keep in mind when you are planning your safari adventures.

1. Always book your location for at least two nights - and three may be better. When travelling in the United States, it is not uncommon to book your room, do the activities at your location and drive to your next location the next night. In Africa, the distances are longer and the activities at each location take most of the day. By booking for two nights, you will get an evening activity, possibly an all day activity, or a morning and an evening activity. At only one location did we get an activity on departure day. So a two day stay is a minimum. We chose one location and stayed four nights. We got to see much more of that fabulous area. The other advantage of a three or four day stay is that you have more time to enjoy the facility itself.
Remember as well that if you are going between locations that are farther away - most of your day is going to be spent travelling. Only twice did "moving" day take only a couple of hours. By the time you've packed up, been transported to the airport, waited your couple of hours at the airport for your flight, fly for a couple of hours, and drive to the next lodge - your day is gone.

2. Twice we had bookings that were near each other: Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge and Wolvedans Dune Camp in Namibia were only an hour drive apart. Chobe Game Lodge and Chobe Savannah Lodge were close geographically, but by the time you've gone through immigration a couple of times, it took a couple of hours to get from one to the other. However, each lodge is very different and I was glad I had stayed at all of these lodges.

Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge was a luxury lodge - air conditioned stone cabins, a 12 inch telescope with astronomy experts to help you enjoy the southern sky. They drove us to the Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon ares of the Namib Naukluft National Park as well as game drives in the Namib Rand Nature Preserve.
Dining was at private tables with your own personal waiter.

We each had our own stone cabin, wonderfully airconditioned and beautiful on the inside.

The Wolvedans Dune Camp is located on top of the dunes in the Namib Rand Nature Preserve.

Our evening drive and our all day drive gave us a very different experience in the Namibia Desert.

And the lodge was a totally different experience - comfortable platform tents, solared powered and community dining.

I really enjoyed sharing a table with the other guests, it gave us a sense of community and we got to know a little bit about the other people staying with us. And they did such a beautiful job with setting the table. And food was great!

Chobe Game Lodge and Chobe Savannah Lodge are owned by the same company. While the Game Lodge does do mid-day and evening boat safari, you also go on amazing game drives through Chobe National Park.

Chobe Game Lodge was more like a modern hotel with air conditioned rooms. It was right on the river and actually in the Chobe National Park. The architecture was Moorish and the modern, air conditioned rooms were comfortable. And the game watching excellent. I even saw a lioness prowling the river as I walked to my room one evening. And yes, there was a fence between me and the lioness.

Chobe Savannah Lodge is just on the other side of the Chobe River, but it is in the Caprivi Strip in Namibia.

Our individual cabin was lovely, well appointed with a great view of the river right outside the patio door.

Game viewing was done in boats along the river which allowed us to approach the river animals more closely than you could in the safari trucks.

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